Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Medicine


Community Practice

Committee Chair

Irene Tessaro.


Chronic pain is described as pain that persists for six months or longer. This type of pain may range from dull to excruciating and may be constant or sporadic. The purpose of this study was to explore the explanatory models of individuals living in chronic pain. The study sample included twelve adults, eleven women and one man, who have been diagnosed with the chronic pain condition Fibromyalgia. Using Arthur Kleinman's explanatory models as a framework, participants were personally interviewed regarding the physical, personal, and social causes and consequences of chronic pain. In order to elicit personal explanatory models, each participant was encouraged to discuss any personally significant aspect of their chronic pain experience. Upon completion of the qualitative interviews, data was analyzed using a descriptive research method. The statistical analysis system NUDIST, a text analysis system for microcomputers, was used in order to organize the data. Results yielded three major explanatory themes. First, there was a general lack of understanding regarding the etiology and pathology of fibromyalgia. Secondly, the majority of participants expressed great frustration and/or anxiety in regards to pain etiology, the future, personal relationships, and treatment. Lastly, participants reported significantly decreased social interaction as an effect of living with chronic pain. This work is significant in that increased understanding of the chronic pain experience lends itself to positively impacting the negative aspects of this experience.